Adaptations of literature to a motion picture is a tricky endeavour. There is a big onus to live up to the expectations of people.
They are already aware of the premises of the story and the particular adaptations. Therefore, the judgement of people is going to be caustic if the picture is not up to the mark.
The difficulty increases more in our country. Due to its diversity, people ’s interpretation of things changes very quickly. They are impacted by their socio-political circumstances. Diversity brings the problem of overall approval, and thus, challenges the brave filmmakers. These filmmakers who not only create something beautiful from literature but also give us the classics of Indian Cinema.
Let us get down to the list of motion-pictures, which made their mark over the years as adaptations:
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is one of the most renowned authors in Bengal. Many movies have been adaptations of his literary work. ‘Parineeta’ has been adapted several times in Indian cinema, last being in 2005. However, the one which stands out is directed by the legendary director, Bimal Roy in 1953. The story of a woman named Lalita and her love story with a wealthy neighbour is the core of this tale. Bimal Roy caters to the classism, love, and platonic love in very delicate manner, making this a movie of his own.
This movie is directed by Bimal Roy and is based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name. ‘Devdas’ is a story set in rural Bengal. Roy showcases the feudalism, classism, and the emotional vulnerability of the central characters. The character of Devdas goes through the dialectically opposite roles of an erudite man to a drunken man. Thus, giving upon his senses and surrendering to the society’s hypocritical values.
This is among the most classic examples of adaptations, by arguably India’s best filmmaker of all time, Satyajit Ray. Ray adapted India’s most notable writer Rabindranath Tagore’s novel into a movie. “Nastanirh”, the novel, was adopted as a movie named ‘Charulata’. Ray showed the movie from the perspective of the leading lady named Charulata and has given the story his own touch. He takes brave decisions on scripts which were slightly different from the original story. Yet it fully justifies the whole movie, and it is no less impactful than the original work.
One of the longest books written in its time, the piece of Gujarati literature was written by Govardhanram Tripathi. The book on social feudalism and ironical values of the Indian society was adapted for a movie by the director, Govind Saraiya. The film depicts the notion of idealism in the Indian society. It focuses on the sheer hypocrisy and irony of it and most important of all, how misunderstandings can ruin human relationships. The narrative is aided by a beautiful performance from Nutan as one of the protagonists of the film.
‘Kalyug’ is a modern adaptation of the epic Indian Mythology “Mahabharat”. It is written by legends Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad and Satyadev Dubey. It is directed by Shyam Benegal himself. The story revolves around two brothers and their sons’ fight for the ancestral business. This was the main conflict of Mahabharat as well. Benegal is helped by a watertight script and amazing acting by the ensemble cast.
HAZAAR CHAURASI KI MAA (1998)
An adaptation of Mahasweta Devi’s Bengali novel “Hajar Churashir Maa”. The picture was directed by veteran Govind Nihalani. The story pivots around the character of a mother, whose life is shattered after her young son’s murder. Finding the reasons for her son’s murder, she learns of the shady activities her son was involved in. The story is set in the late 1970s and caters the emotions of a mother’s agony and sadness. Also, the Naxal backdrop helps understand the people’s mentalities in particular areas.
“Pinjar” was based on the book written by celebrated poetess and author, Amrita Pritam. It was adapted by director Chandraprakash Dwivedi for a film. Set in the time of partition, ‘Pinjar’ is a story of a woman who is at the receiving end of an ancestral feud between two families. It shows the emotional, physical and mental challenges of the society. The rigours of dealing with the partition are beautifully exhibited in this movie.
Omkara is one of the best adaptations of the Shakespearean tragedy “Othello”. Vishal Bhardwaj has mastered the craft of adapting literature to cinema and ‘Omkara’ sits right at the top of his movie adaptations. It is set in the backdrop of Uttar Pradesh, mixed with stellar performances from the whole cast. It also has a beautiful score, composed by the director himself. Vishal gives a similar storyline to the original work of Shakespeare. However, he situates the story in different parts of India and their geographical conditions to create a magical experience.
An adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet” and beautifully yet chaotically set in Kashmir of late 90’s. It is directed and written by Vishal Bhardwaj. This movie shakes your soul in the way only a Vishal Bhardwaj movie can. It shows the grief, anger, sadness, greed and ambition, poetically written by Shakespeare. Vishal then situates it in a totally different premise and in that process using another literary work (Curfewed Nights by Bashrat Pir) to set the background. Hence, impeccable in so many ways.
‘Visaranai’ is a Tamil film based on M. Chandrakumar’s novel “Lock Up” and directed by Vetrimaaran. One of the most brutal tales in Indian cinema, where four labourers suffer through police brutality. It juxtaposes issues of corruption and social injustice. Shot as a docu-drama, this movie has more than enough material to madden your soul, and its intricacy stays with you for long. If you are in a happy mood, avoid this movie like the plague.